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Operation of Floodgates, Pumps in Hidalgo Co. Explained

3 weeks 17 hours 25 minutes ago Wednesday, June 26 2019 Jun 26, 2019 June 26, 2019 9:58 PM June 26, 2019 in News - Local

ELSA – The operation of the floodgates and pumps in Hidalgo County were questioned during an emergency meeting in the city of Elsa. 

City leaders held an emergency meeting Wednesday afternoon where they read a declaration of disaster.

Their city experienced damage to private and public property.

The volunteer fire department responded to over 70 incidents, some were rescues.

City leaders approved the rental of two vacuum trucks and other equipment to help make repairs and pump water out.

Mayor Al Perez said the pumps operated by the county were turned on too late.

"I don’t know how the floodway works or what the protocol is on what it takes to turn the pumps on, but we need that information. We need to know. We need answers," Perez said.

The Hidalgo County Drainage District 1 general manager offered an explanation to address the concerns about the use of floodgates and pumps. 

The drainage system spans the county; it helps move rain through its drainage lines and into the floodway. The levee helps get it there.

Hidalgo County Drainage District 1 General Manager Raul Sesin explains there's a rectangular channel that moves the water through a levee.

It's referred to as a "box". It moves water from the land side to the floodway. 

A long, vertical structure runs through the channel; it performs two main functions.

It's hollow, but the floodgate can be lowered or opened through it.

When it's closed, it keeps water from the land side from flowing into the floodway.

Sesin says that gate was open before the rain came down Monday.

The other important function of the vertical structure is its use to pump water through it.

It's what the mayor of the city of Elsa wanted to happen.

In the levee near La Villa, the closest one to Elsa, there's a mobile pump connected.

Sesin explains it draws water from the land side.

When the gate is closed, the water drawn from the pump trickles into the vertical structure and flows into the flood way.

When the flood gate is open, as it is during this weather event, the water is pumped into the main channel.

"If the gate is open, I'm not doing much pumping into the box," Sesin explains. 

There are other options; the drainage district took a different strategy in another levee spot near La Villa.

"What we did in the other ditch south of 107, we set up a pump over here, a mobile pump" said Sesin.

Sesin and the drainage district will be working to keep up with the changes, but moving that much water out of any region takes time and strategy.

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